Friday, September 02, 2005

Always Be Prepared

There is a motto I learned early in life with regard to photography: Always Be Prepared. You may think I was a Boy Scout, but this is impossible; I was a Girl Scout for a short time, but that's not where I learned the motto. I suppose it was my father who taught me to always be prepared with the camera. He taught not so much with words, but by example. I remember he brought his camera with him everywhere and was always prepared to take a picture of something, someone, or some place.

The Boy Scouts take their motto very seriously, as do I. I now have a digital camera, having gone through a whole range of cameras from the big clunky kind in the 70s to the tiny pocket variety of the past several years. Upon marrying my husband, a high-tech camera came into my life with multiple lenses and features and gadgets I still have yet to figure out. The digital camera is by far the easiest and the most convenient to use, especially with the option of viewing the photo immediately to see if it is worth saving, as well as being able to delete it if it isn't. My digital camera is small enough to fit into a pocket or handbag and it accompanies our family nearly everywhere we go. I am teaching my children what my dad taught me about being prepared with the camera.

Being prepared has given me what are referred to by many as some "great Kodak moments." I've captured spontaneous laughter between friends, the delight on my children's faces as they look at a new litter of kittens, and of course the winning (and losing) soccer games, basketball games, and track meets. In nature, I've been awed to photograph crimson sunsets, surprising lightning, or even just a nest of tiny birds, just freshly broken free from their eggs. Many of these moments would be lost in memory and time had I not thought to take the camera along.

A few years ago our family took a trip to Niagara Falls and we met with literally thousands of Japanese tourists all sporting a variety of cameras hanging around their necks. Over the years I've noticed that Japanese visitors to America must have heard the motto to always be prepared. They are constantly ready to point their cameras and shoot. I've learned a lot from them: it never hurts to take pictures of any and everything. This past summer we were privileged to host a Japanese exchange student and she brought more than a dozen disposable cameras for her month in the states. Not only did she use every camera, she also bought 5 more while she was here. I found myself using my digital camera each time she used one of hers, and now that she's gone, I'm thankful I recorded all our fun memories of that magical month.

My dad still hasn't graduated to the digital age, but he still takes his camera with him everywhere and he is always prepared. Now that I think of it, maybe he was a Boy Scout?

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